From the July 2012 issue of Runner’s World
We run through the physical and mental sensations of your 10-week build-up
By Bob Cooper
Running longer, faster, and more frequently transforms your body and your outlook. The weeks leading up to the big day are a blend of sensations and emotions that can be inspiring – or demoralising. Here’s a checklist of what’s coming your way as you journey to the starting line.
...IN WEEKS ONE THROUGH THREE
Excitement. Some nerves. This is a big challenge!
Fatigue as your mileage slowly increases.
Sore muscles. It will take time to adapt to running longer and faster.
Hunger. Exercising more is firing up your metabolism.
TIP Even if you feel great, stick to your plan and resist the urge to do too much too soon. Overdoing it can lead to fatigue or even injury.
...AT WEEK FIVE
Better endurance. You’re regularly on your feet for more than an hour at a time.
More speed. Workouts like tempo runs encourage physiological changes that help you run faster.
Greater confidence as you successfully complete a variety of runs.
More hunger. Be careful not to overcompensate by overeating.
TIP As you adapt to the training it will begin to feel easier – but it’s also possible to lose focus when there’s a long way to go before the race. Stay on task by focusing on mini-goals within each workout, like hydrating regularly or finishing faster.
...IN WEEKS NINE AND 10
Excitement mixed with bits of dread and relief. Race day is nigh.
Enlightenment. After doing two long runs of 16 kilometres and 19 kilometres, you finally, really, believe that you can complete 21.1 kilometres.
Restless with your taper.
Paranoia over your health. Every sniffle becomes a forerunner of doom.
TIP Take the edge off your taper by spending 30 minutes a day doing something that relaxes both your mind and body, like a walk or a yoga class. Try to sleep an extra 30 minutes each night.
...THE DAY BEFORE THE RACE
Heartened (or devastated) by a 20-minute “shakeout” jog that feels amazing (or terrible). Believe the first, not the latter.
Mentally scattered by nerves. Compensate by making a list of everything you’ll need on race morning. Lay out your gear, pin your number on your shirt, and lace the timing chip on your shoe.
Not hungry. Food will lose flavour and appeal. This is temporary. Eat as normal.
Sleepless. Remember how you felt as a little kid on Christmas Eve?
TIP It’s normal to experience a big-time case of nerves the day before a race. Distract yourself by playing with the kids or watching a movie, and try focusing on how well you’ve prepared rather than what could go wrong.
...ON RACE MORNING
Compelled to triple-check that you have everything. Twice.
Zero appetite. Force it down, anyway.
Unusually devoted to portaloo. Nerves are hitting you in the gut.
Dawning awareness during your warm-up that you’ll be fine.
TIP Arrive early to the race, as everything from parking at the start to waiting in the portaloo line can take longer than you expect.
...DURING THE RACE
Excited by the crowd. You must stick to your own pace and not go out too fast.
Tempted to skip early aid stations. But you will diligently drink at each one.
Challenged. Energy levels may dip. But you will overcome adversity by fuelling and hydrating regularly and adjusting your pace.
Stoked. You made it. You did the work – now it’s time to soak up the vibe.
TIP In the first half of the race, go slower than feels necessary. Pick up your pace at the halfway point. The energy you saved in the beginning will help you finish strong.
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